If you’ve found that your expenses are going up each month, you’re not alone. Inflation in the U.S. has hit an all-time high in 40 years to 8.5% over the last 12 months. That means that the average American household is spending an extra $296.45 per month because of inflation, according to a report by Moody Analytics.
Need help making your budget stretch? Check out these three tips to help you save money and afford the important things in life.
1. Reduce your food bill
Food is likely one of the largest expenses in your budget, especially if you’re feeding a whole family. There are plenty of ways to reduce your food bill. Searching for sales and coupons, making a weekly meal plan and buying generic over brand-name products are well-known solutions.
If you want to step up your savings game, try buying more frozen products to reduce food waste. According to a study by William and Mary University, the average American spends about $1,300 per year on food that isn’t consumed. By stocking your fridge with frozen fruits and veggies, you’ll save money and, as a bonus, do some good for the planet.
It’s also a good idea to freeze your leftovers if your family isn’t likely to eat them within a couple of days. If you find meats and seafood on sale, buy and freeze them for future meals.
2. Save on gas
Gasoline is another significant expense for most household budgets. Whether you’re commuting to work, school, or visiting family and friends, it’s easy to spend a lot on fuel. The easiest way to spend less is to drive less, but that may not be possible for your family. Instead, try driving at lower speeds. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you spend an additional $0.22 per gallon of gas for every 5 miles above 50 mph.
Another way to spend less is to be smart about where you purchase gas. Warehouse or wholesale clubs tend to have gas stations that offer gas at a lower price than regular gas stations to their members. If you already shop at a wholesale club for bulk items, see if you can get additional discounts or cashback when using your member credit card at the pump.
If you don’t have a wholesale club membership or there isn’t one near you, you can still save at your local gas stations. Check around town or download apps that help you find the cheapest gas prices in town. Many major gas stations also offer fuel rewards or discounts, so make sure to sign up so you can save.
3. Manage health care costs
Health care and wellness can be expensive, but there are also some simple tricks to help you manage these costs. If you take multiple medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can switch from a brand-name to a generic medication. Generics work as well as brand-name medicines at a lower price point.
Check with your job and health insurance provider for health programs and discounts. You may even qualify to get money back for going to the gym and other activities you already practice.
One area of health that can be expensive is vision care. If your insurance doesn’t include vision insurance, check out VSP vision insurance.
Visit an eye doctor and save with VSP vision insurance. You can purchase a vision insurance plan at any time without having to wait for open enrollment. Plans start as low as $13 per month and can help you save up to $200 per year and give you access to the largest network of doctors. Other benefits include 20% savings on additional glasses or sunglasses, including lens enhancements, from a VSP network of independent eye doctors within 12 months of your last exam. To find out which vision plan is best for you, visit VSP Individual Vision Plans.
You don’t have to choose between enjoying your life and affording the basics. Use these three tips so you can save money without compromising your quality of life.